Final Day Preview : The Promised Land Awaits
Event Venue: The Emirates, Anfield and Vicarage Road, Sunday May 21st 3pm. Live on Sky Sports 1.See Stats
It's the final day of the Premier League season and it's all about the Champions League. Chelsea have the title won and three deserving teams have been relegated. But it's two out of three for the Champions League and this preview looks at whether Arsenal can avoid Thursday night football.
Gunning for Glory
Back in the day if you finished fourth in the table and miles behind the champions it was considered a failure. If Arsenal can squeeze into fourth it'll be lap of honour time. Some fans might even say they like Arsene Wenger who may or may not be managing his last game at the Emirates.
What would the Europe's top club competition be like without the Gunners losing in the last sixteen? It may happen though because Arsenal are in fifth place coming into this final day and it's totally out of their hands on Sunday. Recent form has improved, well that of Alexis Sanchez has with five goals in his last three games. Will this be his last game in the top flight for Arsenal?
Arsenal have won their last four games in th top flight but it's that dodgy spell in February and March when they could only beat National League sides that has cost them dearly. They don't actually have to win this game against Everton, a 1-1 draw and a 2-0 defeat for Liverpool gets them into a play-off for the fourth Champions League place. If they drew and Liverpool lost by three goals to Middlesbrough (ok we're entering the realms of fantasy now) then Arsenal will be in the top four.
A home game against Everton isn't the easiest of final fixtures but the visitors haven't won any of their last seven away league games and are guaranteed seventh place and will be playing Europa League football next season. Arsenal can get the win here and if they could score a few goals and then find out Manchester City lose by a few goals at Watford then that could see them in the top four. It's totally out of their hands tough but all they can do is win and live in hope, otherwise Arsenal fans will be missing quite a lot of Thursday television next season.
City in Form at the Right Time
Failing to qualify for the Champions League would be a disaster for Manchester City and certainly be a black mark on the CV of Pep Guardiola. He doesn't do Europa League does he? City start the day in third place on 75 points and know that coming away from Vicarage Road with a point is going to be enough to take them into the Champions League. It would also guarantee them third place unless Liverpool thrash Middlesbrough. Third place is important of course as it means you go straight into the Champions League group stages rather than the play-off round. City are in good form at the right time with three straight wins and ten goals scored and up against a Watford side with a leaky defence, they are more than capable of winning this game.
This is the last game for Watford with Walter Mazzari in charge. It's been another inconsistent season for Watford but you can write that about 13 of the 20 teams in the Premier League (all bar the top seven have lost more games than they have won). They have lost their last five league games and had gone four without scoring before the 4-3 defeat at Chelsea on Monday. Home form is better but only four teams in the Premier League have conceded more than Watford and that record is likely to suffer more once City arrive in town.
An Easy Task?
If you went up to Jurgen Klopp at the start of the season and offered him a home game against a relegated side and a win (or even a draw or a defeat) gets you into the Champions League, he'd have bitten your arm off. Well that's just what he has as his Liverpool side host Middlesbrough who are already relegated to the second-tier of English football.
To be fair, Liverpool should have already clinched a top four finish. Two points from recent home games against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton just isn't good enough if they ever want to get into title contention let alone the Champions League. The 4-0 win at West Ham last week was a great result for them but if they'd drawn that game Liverpool would be outside the top four going into this game.
Liverpool have only lost two home games this season and they dare not lose this one. Middlesbrough are already down and only won one away league game this season. That was the first one they played and it was over bottom of the table Sunderland. Boro have conceded 11 goals in their last three away games but have managed just three goals themselves in the last ten, surely they can't upset the Anfield party on Sunday and this preview certainly believes Liverpool can get the win here on a -1 handicap.
- Wins for Liverpool and Manchester City guarantee them Champions League football
- If Arsenal draw 1-1 and Liverpool lose 2-0 then there will be a play-off for fourth place.
- A 3-3 for City and Liverpool beating Middlesbrough 3-0 would see a play-off for third place and the group spot in the Champions League.
- A 4-0 Watford win and an Arsenal 1-0 win would also require a play-off
- An Arsenal defeat means Europa League football for the Gunners
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